Tuesday 13th April 2021

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. July- December. 2020. 31/2021.

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. July- December. 2020. 31/2021.

Recently I wrote here about the changes for me, and many of us, in the first half of 2020 in my life, my local area and wider community during Covid 19 conditions in Australia.

From memory, I think we started to deal with the restrictions of Covid 19 here in our local area quite well:

Central Coast (located on map below – right side -Eastern Australia between Sydney and Newcastle)

It’s in the state of New South Wales Australia.

There were many who would say differently and that is because of these Covid 19  impacts:

  • Borders between states and territories closed/opened/required permits/required quarantine….with changes occurring immediately or overnight. Often without warning.

 

  • Those who were trying to get back home to Australia from overseas were met with cancellations by airlines at the last minute, changes in Australia’s capacity to manage quarantine situations if and when people returned

 

  • As I write, late February 2021, this is still quite an issue. The Australian (Federal) Government and its various Departments are doing what they can (they say) but as we are also State-based, those leaders have to agree/acknowledge their limitations for taking people into quarantine. I know little about it but keep an eye on facebook friends who I know are in this situation and understand it is not great.

 

  • Then there is this. The quarantine comes at a personal cost to returning travellers/citizens and whilst initially it was free, it is now $3000 per first person in family and less for subsequent members. A friend is almost finished her quarantine with her 18 year old daughter and has shown updates from their room, food supplied and more. She is Australian, with her daughter, also Australian, returning to the capital city where they used to live for her to start University. They still live as expats in Singapore for her husband’s work.

 

  • There is also this example. Another friend cannot travel across Australia to see her family (a new & first grandchild born before Covid hit) because of the states’ laws between her state (New South Wales) and that where her grandson and family live (Western Australia). Quarantine costs time AND money and as she is the sole income earner in her family, she cannot afford to do this. We know why, it is just hard!

 

  • For those reading from countries other than Australia, our country, is also a continent and is roughly close in physical size to North America.

Health (again!)

June and it brought my first colonoscopy in over 10 years. It was something I needed but oh my, I hate the prep. I would have to say, it is probably worse than any surgical procedure!! Anyway, because I know I could be having some surgery in my future, I did take the chance once some of the Covid rules for travel and visiting were reduced, to go see my father who had been automatically socially isolating because of his age and where he lives. As always he was pleased to see me and I carried some frozen meals and treats for him. It’s roughly a two hour drive to him from us and similarly on the way back. I listen to audiobooks most times! As the walking on beaches was less restrictive over time, I could visit again.

Our 7th grandchild turned 7. There was no family party but she knew we were thinking of her. We always send a card, which I add lots of photos inside as a memento of the grandchild and us…and often some money is put in the parent’s bank account for the child to spend later on something needed or wanted or even both. Schooling continued to be a mix of home and at school from memory and like everything and everyone, adaptations happened.

My colonoscopy result was good (no cancer ) but also, yes, you need rectal prolapse surgery so I began preparation for the date allocated in July. School holidays were in this month but we had no visitors nor did we visit. Being winter, everyone was pretty cautious around going anywhere and restrictions for visitors to the home were still in place. There was no outdoor concerts, nor even indoor ones at this point. On-line shopping and event gathering happened via Zoom. My pre-hospital admission ended up being over the phone for the late July surgery.

I admit, that pre-major surgery I do get concerned/worried/stressed and much of it, in this case, related to the procedure, what it would be like before I went into theatre – an enema would be carried out – and the preparation whilst thorough and necessary for the type of surgery just added to my load.

I tried to get myself into some nature, locally as it was fine to visit, and to making some meals so that I would have plenty of variety for me to eat. You see, since head and neck cancer surgery, eating anywhere other than home, and in small and suitable quantities is how I have to keep well-nourished.

I did it. Well, the surgeon did, and I am, as always  a model patient and excellent recoverer so I got to come home a night early. I was so stressed because…couldn’t eat much, very uncomfy and my colo rectal surgeon kindly OK-ed me to go home. Best place ever!

World Head and Neck Cancer Day: 27 July 2020. Suddenly when COVID hit, all aspects of fundraising in person went by the by, and in came virtual events, cooking demonstrations and Soup For the Soul via individuals where groups might gather. My surgery was within the same week as this but I did what I could prior to the Day in my role as an Ambassador….and jumping ahead to September, Beyond Five had a name change to Head and Neck Cancer Australia. I remain honoured to be continuing this important work of awareness sharing and telling my story.

August arrived with some wonderful people we had not seen since late the previous year…at least I had but my husband had not. Grandchildren and our son, their Dad. I was still very gingerly post-op with a sore tummy that had an upside down T incision from belly button to pelvis because of the finding of a hernia on top of doing the repair. Sigh. Thank goodness I was wise enough to get some very loose fitting pants and slip on slipper/shoes because getting up and bending was not part of my repertoire then. Nevertheless I had the wonderful feeling of wellness and happiness because...family!

The wellness continued until it did not.

My wound, which had an area of where the opening had been a challenge for my surgeons, opened up slightly but enough to be scary. Fluid leaked constantly and fortunately my G.P. got me straight back to my surgeon, who arranged for wound debridement surgery the following Monday. The hospital stays were about 3 weeks apart. The surgery meant I wore a bag called a VAC attached to the wound and I had home visits from a nurse for almost 3 weeks, then visits to my local GP Nurse. I was not finally well…i.e. the wound closed and good till October 6th! 

More Than “just” Health…Life Goes On!!

Head and Neck Cancer Check in early September 2020 went so well my head and neck surgeon said “see you in a year”. I was in shock. Many of us with cancers who have on-going checks which indicate no changes (for the bad or cancer returning) tell me that hearing that from the doctors can be like that. We are so used to someone keeping an eye on us!

Father’s Day: no get togethers but I remembered the Dads in my life…and that of our children and their children.

6/9/2020: the Fathers & Grandfathers

Together For Fifty Years!

In October we celebrated our meeting as young teachers at a NSW Teachers Federation Conference Dinner at Tamworth in 1970 by going back. It was a great trip down memory lane and some of these snaps capture it. I wrote about it more for Telling My Story here too.

November. Staying In Touch.

Our two eldest granddaughters visited for a mission…taking photos (memories) of their grandparents to celebrate their 50 years together. It was so good to see them again too. What fun we had. Lots of smiles and laughter!

Time for another visit to see my Dad. Important for me (and him) having these more frequent visits as he has kept himself more isolated socially due to Covid and his restricted physical mobility.

I also have almost no other reasons to be driving back and forth to Sydney so can factor in seeing Dad once a month now.

He has had some tricky (for him) health scares including potential melanoma (not) and a serious balance issue (sorted in 2018 along with the permanent loss of vision in one eye (only about 20% OK) so he relies on this better eye. An avid reader, and writer, he is very restricted for both now. He does however, remain very active in one social group where he lives and relies on his TV news and more including sport and other interests.

My husband joined me on my 30 November catch up morning tea because it was my 71st Birthday!

The two of us.

Suddenly it’s THAT month: December.

I spent quite a bit of time on-line and out and about at the local ‘cheap shops’ as I call them finding memorabilia and items for our Golden Wedding Anniversary coming up in mid January 2021. I admit it was fun and very distracting and I enjoyed both the research and the rewards.

I had a little niggle of pain in the area of my upper prosthesis and had a hastily arranged appointment in Westmead with my prosthodontist where he felt it would be OK once I took a dose of anti-biotics and took care with some ‘sharp foods’…ok, chips.

Happily back in the car to see Dad as a pre-Christmas visit. We had plans to go to our daughter’s in North Western Sydney to join most of our family, and Dad was going to my brother’s for Christmas Day….and whilst I did get to see Dad on 17 December, on 18 December everywhere on Sydney’s Northern Beaches – where Dad and brother live – was declared a Covid Hot Spot. Oh Great. NOT.

COVID really interrupted many plans for Christmas and BEYOND. Big time.

By close to Christmas Day, we made the decision not to travel to our daughter’s house.

My Dad would be going to my brother’s as his house, whilst in the Northern Beaches, was OK to have visitors from within the same area.

I ended up with some more pain in my gum and my prosthodontist was able to fit me in 3 days before Christmas (all was OK but he left me with an anti-biotic script just in case) and I took the chance to swing by my daughter’s beforehand to drop off our presents and biscuits I had made to her and see two of my granddaughters.

 Time to Reflect.

Gratitude was my word for 2020. I needed it. I remembered it and I am glad I chose it.

Our extended family stayed well, despite some visits to emergency departments for chronic conditions and accidents. No covid.

Those in our family had shelter, an income and care of each other. Money coming in did reduce and some were helped by the Australian government Covid payments.

We felt generally well, and very safe in the house we call home (even though it is not ours) and we know we are here until April 2022.

We could not fault those in the medical and hospital and ancillary health services who cared for us, as older citizens.

I was glad to be a supporter of all that was happening in schooling and schools things changed…because I am a “cheerleader” but not to have to manage a family and work anymore.

We were grateful we had plenty of practice living as a retired couple and 2020 did not challenge us too much at all. We have separate spaces for our hobbies and interests and that is a good thing.

We had each other.

We remained focussed as much as we could on the good the year had brought, particularly to me as I ticked health boxes and recovered so well.

Summing it up:

How was the second half of 2020 for you and your family?

Denyse.

Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

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One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. Jan-June. 2020. 25/2021.

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. Jan-June 2020. 25/2021.

Yes it did. So what? Isn’t everything constantly changing anyway?

The only thing that is permanent is impermanence.

2020 was to be my year of Gratitude…and here I was in my first instagram post of 2020.

And I can tell you that I DID keep to that routine of finding gratitude every day and wrote a post here last week.

Things were still pretty grim on the east coast of Australia where bushfires had been wreaking havoc, causing death, property loss, and much much more from late Spring. Here we were in January 2020 and things were still every grim. Hot. Unrelenting. Smokey skies…but where possible,  LIFE for us/me, and as this is my version of the changes, had to go on.

First for me, and that had knock on changes for my on-going eye health was a visit for a regular check in early January 2020 where the optician was sufficiently concerned for the cataracts he could see appearing, I brought my specialist appointment forward and attended her rooms in Sydney.

Right, she said “time for cataract x 2 surgeries” and we can do them 2 days apart in Parramatta. The big changes occurred instantly early March but took a while for my vision to be ready to adapt to simpler reading glasses. The best part? Lining up at the local NSW Service Centre to have “glasses for driving” taken off my licence.

In February there was the most welcome relief of all from the unrelenting heat, smoke and fires…in the form of pouring rain, flooding roads and more but the fact is most of the fires were now put out thanks to this change. However, changes of all kinds ARE indeed mixed in their blessings!

And from January onwards we heard from time to time about something called Coronavirus that had been found in Wuhan China. We saw news items with many people covered from head to toe in what we now know as PPE. Personal Protective Equipment: masks, boots, face covers, and scrubs…

But in February and March, for my experiences as a patient visiting my head and neck surgeon for a post-cancer check, attending a charity fundraising function and for being part of a head and neck cancer video, there was just one mention at the entrance to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in early March…and none at all in February. I had a prosthodontist check at Westmead where there were no restrictions. Glad I had that because it suddenly had to stop all bar emergencies and did not come back until the latter half of 2020. Fortunately I remained OK and my regular dentist was able to see me for a check in May.

We had our first Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group Meeting in February 2020 and then…we had to cease all meetings. We were not alone. Hospitals and other organisations were affected. We were not to meet again until close to Christmas for a luncheon and then last week, February 2021 we got together like this:

 

February saw me take a solo drive to Newcastle and attend an event at the Civic Theatre. It was Chat 10 Looks 3 with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales and neither they, nor the audience knew it would be a last gathering in large crowds….and as I write, in February 2021, there is a return to concerts, theatre and live events but with some Covid-based restrictions.


I also took part in a video being made for head and neck cancer patients and families at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. We were, as they say, so lucky to get that kind of event before the greater restrictions were announced.


Already though, on-line and in person there were warnings that we should not visit under any circumstances if we were unwell or had travelled from certain countries.

At my day surgery for my eyes in early March (9 & 11 March) some restrictions commenced on the first visit – some questions were asked on arrival. By the day after that, I had to have a temperture check, answer a series of questions and have no-one accompany me. I didn’t anyway. I could feel the tension levels rising.

By the next day after that when my husband drove me to Morisset for post-cataract check, even more restrictions were put in place. I spoke to my Opthalmologist a few months back when she finally started seeing patients again and she said to manage “the many changes, and the ways in which services had to be offered, they were in a constant state of readiness for change and being flexible. Every day brought some new measure”.

And Then More Changed. Where We Could Travel. What We Could Do.

16 March onwards.

Our eldest granddaughter, already immuno-compromised, “left home” where she may have been exposed to any part of this very scary and unknown virus because her mum and young sister attended schools. Still schools remained open..but then they too had to adapt. BIG time.  Ms J. came to the Central Coast to stay with her paternal grandparents and in those months I think the generations made it work well for them. She did have a sneaky day trip to see us and we agreed: HUGS were happening. She said “I so miss hugs”.

About Schools. Teachers, Principals and The Students. Parents Too.

When announcements were made by our N.S.W. Premier, the Health Minister, The Police Minister and the Chief Health Officer,(and sometimes others)  those announcements were many fold.

Every state and territory managed the matters of education, transport, health and so on and there were/are continuing conflicts about Aged Care and Quarantine/Border Matters being state or federal. It truly has been very trying all-round. Schools, because of the close contact via their very nature of operation, had to make swift, educationally-sound and major changes of day to day operation.

It was non-negotiable for public schools. They had to stay open for vulnerable kids and those too of workers in essential industries. They also had to provide quality and consistent work at school for students and for those who could stay at home. I only read about this and viewed how it was via my teaching contacts. Our daughter, a teacher-librarian then at her school found it huge as a shift but like all, they got on with it. It would have been a logistical issue of huge proportions for all schools. I was a very understanding and empathetic cheerleader where I could.

Life As We Knew It…Mostly Changed! 

We here in N.S.W. learned to live with:

  • daily updates of covid cases, diagnoses, tests, and sadly deaths. This happened most mornings at 11.00. a.m. I kept up via updates in social media.
  • sad stories of what was happening in aged care facilities. So many stories that have had to be managed via (I think) a Royal Commission
  • mixed messages from different levels of government. By mixed I meant it was inconsistent because of our way of being governed.
  • shortages…in supermarkets. The first time I visited a supermarket post our levels of restriction in those early months: only leave home for essential shopping, health reasons, exercise and essential work, it blew me away. I wondered what had happened….

“this” item most likely to have been bought AND to have run out!

  • I missed my daily drives and had to re-invent how to take care of my emotional health and form some routines that worked for me at home.
  • I did still do shopping, but was in & out as soon as possible.
  • Our GP practice offered telehealth appointments and we knew they were early days for them too, my husband in particular found a challenging medical issue very difficult to manage via phone. The doctors at that stage were saying no-one over 70 attend the surgery.

Getting Accustomed To The Changes.

  • It was all about being safe. We recognised that. We could not (and would not) disobey the then rules around being out of the house. We saw many more people in our neighbourhood walking past as part of their day.
  • We could not just go out for fun at all in March into early May.
  • I was incredibly relieved when, following the strict rules, my hairdresser was able to re-open and I got a much needed psychological boost of a haircut and a connection with my caring hairdresser
  • Over time, of course, we saw the emergence of Covid Test centres and I had a temperature and a bit of cough so went through the then procedures to got to my local hospital test centre. It felt weird but knowing i had to do the right thing because of this invisible virus, I self-isolated at home and was glad to get my results within a day and a half. Negative.

Changes Happened Regularly.

April – June. My commentary related to New South Wales, and what I recall specifically affected me/us.

  • Covid rules went up and down in severity depending on where clusters of cases had been found and so on
  • Where we live, is an hour’s drive to Sydney and then another 45 minutes to either my Dad’s on the Northern Beaches or our Kids’ in the North West.
  • For quite a few weeks, into months, we could not travel at all, other than locally.
  • It meant no visits for celebrations or care. We did not know how long this would last but fortunately in time for Mother’s Day – May – we could drive to Sydney to see our family and later in that month to visit dad.
  • We also could see via media reports from around Australia that where we lived, we were doing OK relatively. It did not stop our feelings of sadness and concern for many who did lose their lives and the fact that families could not be with loved ones as they were dying.

 

My Health Also Needed Better Solutions.

I have written about this here before but will just summarise, I needed to have a colonoscopy once my G.P. determined how severe my rectal prolapse was in earliesh May. I did get to the colo-rectal surgeon and he very quickly sorted out my thinking do I have to….with yes, how else might we know what’s going on “up there”.

  • Meant to happen late May. Local Private Hospital where he worked one day a week for these procedures accepted my forms for procedures …psyching myself up was the hard part…and then promptly cancelled/postponed because of Covid restrictions on surgeries. They were now a quater of what was before Covid.
  • Waiting not my best thing, but had to. Had my flu injection…sitting outside G.P. surgery while he came out to give me the jab.
  • Finally late June “had the dreaded” colonoscopy. Findings: you need rectal prolapse surgery. Stat. No cancer though.
  • Stat: in Covid times, meant when larger regional private hospital could book me in and I could have relevant pre-op checks. I did. My surgery date was late July.

 

Regular Health Checks Continued.

  • We still saw our podiatrist
  • I had a physio session for my shoulder
  • We eventually went back to choice of face to face at G.P. with mask and social distancing.
  • Saw screens go up at all facilities over time.

Getting Out and About.

I missed my going out for coffee but even when I could return, there were very strict rules for being seated. Over time, and now, I have stopped having a coffee anywhere unless it’s outside. It’s not somewhere I want to linger any more. Perhaps that need has shifted. We do not miss going anywhere as a couple as we stopped that way before this anywhere. Even our get together for a morning tea out has stopped.

I could get back to driving to the beach and walking. There were, in winter, loud hailers and even a police helicopter above the sands, telling us to keep moving, no sitting…it felt big brother ish.

I did do some shopping on-line, like many, but missed actual shops. Sad to say, many of those I enjoyed frequenting for clothes have closed some local shops and the value is no longer there.

That’s it for now.

I will be back soon with July to December.

How was your first half of 2020?

Stay safe, everyone…we are almost at Covid jab time here. Phew.

Denyse.

Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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Taking Stock. #5. 47/51. #LifeThisWeek. 94/2020.

Taking Stock. #5. 47/51. #LifeThisWeek. 94/2020.

Introducing my new collage for Taking Stock. Nothing like a small change to brighten things up!

I admit, that because of the 1000s of images I have in my photos and significant numbers in the media section of the blog itself, I spend far too much time trying to find the images, so made new ones! Hope you like it.

Remember, prompts here for #lifethisweek are ALWAYS optional. For me, and some, they are a good way to start a thread for a post.

A reminder that here’s how things work with the regular optional prompts:

Every 5th Week: Share Your Snaps:

Every 7th Week: Self Care Stories: 

Every 9th Week: Taking Stock:

And, before the end of the year I will have the first 9 weeks of optional prompts for 2021 on the home page AND mentioning them in a blog post. Let me tell you, I am feeling pretty clever finishing all 51!!

Back to Taking Stock.

Making: plans, so many plans and loving it too.

Cooking: some meals for us, Dad and the freezer.

Drinking: coffee, tea, water and prune juice with fruit drink.

Reading: Rick Morton’s Book On Money. Highly recommend it.

Wanting: a Certain Ex-President to wave (ok, don’t wave) BYE-BYE. Now. Thanks.

Looking: at so many ideas for celebrating 50 years of marriage. 

Playing: Hamilton sound track more often than any music. Have not even STARTED on Christmas tunes yet.

Wasting: more money than I should have purchasing a crappy Ipad cover with blue tooth keyboard. Got some of my money back & told keep the product. 

Wishing: I had taken more time over above purchase. Now using an old case.

Enjoying: Schitts Creek. I loved it so much once I survived Ep 1 of Season One. Now it’s about to join Downton Abbey in my ‘comfort-go to’ watching.

Waiting: for ….not much at all really.

Liking: that the community is still making an effort where possible to be socially distant in this COVID year.

Wondering: if it’s possible for Australia’s Prime Minister to actually DO something to HELP people who NEED it most. OK, yes, I am shouting a bit. Sorry.

Loving: the images out of Melbourne in particular where people who did it so very very tough in lockdown for COVID are getting out and about. Safely.

Hoping: that Australia and its near neighbours (and actually our states too) can open their borders safely.

Marvelling: at the incredible fortitude of many people who are in the hands-on caring profession. I am sorry many have become ill themselves.

Needing: very little at all. 

Smelling: the ocean when I get out of the car to view it.

Wearing: shorts and sleeveless tops more these days. Suddenly (almost) Summer is here.

Following: the state of American politics with much shaking of my head. 

Noticing: when some people I know in my social media feed  are not there.

Knowing: those people are likely to have a personal or private reason to be so, but a kind check in does not hurt.

Thinking: how much we need to stay connected even if it’s not in person.

Feeling: that generally I am pretty careful not to exceed friendship bounds but also that I can care at a distance.

Bookmarking: I literally am these days! Reading a couple of chapters each night of Grown Ups by Marian Keyes, and 

Opening: the app for Audible to listen to her narrate her story.

Smiling: at myself because I am currently listening to two Irish accented people (Graham Norton and Marian Keys) on audible and my inner thoughts are with an Irish accent! 

 

So, I went with a traditional post today for Taking Stock. But I did find some photos from recent weeks. They are not matching the prompts but here goes:

I admit, I am finding the writing and posting in these last weeks of 2020 tiring. I think it’s because of the topics!! I know, who set them? No actually it’s the Telling My Story Posts. I wanted to get more out in 2020, and the final one for this year will be week after next. It’s a bit of a challenge to write them to ensure I am telling the story with some accuracy that will not offend people. So far, so good.

Denyse.

Link Up 216

Life This Week. Link Up #216

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt: 48/51 Self-Care Stories #7 30.11.2020 And it’s my birthday! 71 next Monday. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Grateful For This. 38/51. #LifeThisWeek is 4 years old! 76/2020.

Grateful For This. 38/51. #LifeThisWeek is 4 years old! 76/2020.

  • I am forever grateful to be a blogger.
  • I am always grateful to have bloggers link up here.
  • I am feeling the gratitude that through this computer of mine we can connect!
  • So, today: celebrating 4 years of this link up, I offer you my gratitude. In abundance for coming here, reading, commenting, linking up and sharing!

 

If I could reach out to you all, here’s what you might have to celebrate the blog’s 4 years of link ups on Mondays. Big on cake and biscuit cooking at my place.

Where did it all start?

Back in August-September 2016. Gosh, I hadn’t even known I had cancer back then. Lovely Kirsty from here, decided to close her Monday link up called “I Must Confess” and I approached with an idea for Mondays and she was delighted to support and promote….we ARE good mates!! Thanks Kirsty.

This post tells some of the story too.

Here is the first blog post about it. With the first set of optional prompts.

M E M O R Y    L A N E :  September each  year.

2016: see above

2017: 

LTW is ONE. #LifeThisWeek. 35/52. 2017.105.

2018:

Have You Ever? 38/52. #LifeThisWeek is 2! 2018.93.

2019:

What Is Love? 37/51 #LifeThisWeek. 95/2019.

About the Optional Prompts.

I admit they can be easy to decide and then, I can find some weeks harder than others. I do use a calendar for some, for example recent post on Sydney 2000 based on the Sydney Olympics Anniversary. Some are personal because I have some views I want to share but they can apply generally, for example “birth order”. Then in 2018 I made a plan to help sort out the year by adding:

Each 5th week: Share Your Snaps (photo-based post)

Each 7th week: Self-Care Stories

Each 9th week: Taking Stock

This meant for me I “only” needed to come up with prompts in between those intervals.

The reality of the blogging calendar is there are 51 weeks of prompts, and often the last one or two is free choice.

Why Optional Prompts?

Sometime we can sit at the computer and draw a blank but we still want to write! I know this helps me to have a prompt but to ensure no-one felt if they had not blogged based on the prompt they could not link up, I call them optional prompt.

2020.

What a year 2020 has been. Nothing like any of us expected when we made our first of the year posts and mine was this!

Word of Year: Gratitude. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek 1/2020.

I admit when I set out to make a daily gratitude post on Instagram, I thought it would be easy. I knew I could find, feel and notice gratitude all around me. I was ready! Bring it on. Then…the year changed as we know, for all of us. My go-to daily activities were curtailed via the big C (not cancer, the other one) and I also had some surgical procedures. I really HAVE had to seach for gratitude far more deeply and note it even on the worst days for me. I continue to do the daily gratitude on Instagram (see the right hand side of the blog) until 31.12.2020.

2021.

I have no particular hopes nor dreams for 2021, given how 2020 has played out, but I do know one thing: Hamilton, the Musical, has been on repeat for me.

This sums it up…the title anyway, for 2021 and Life This Week!

Thank you for linking up today and commenting too. I will read your post later this week, as always!

Denyse.

 

Link Up 207

Life This Week. Link Up #207

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

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Kindness In Covid19 Times. 24/51. #LifeThisWeek. 48/2020.

Kindness In Covid19 Times. 24/51. #LifeThisWeek. 48/2020.

None of us can deny Covid19 – Coronavirus – has changed much in our lives since the news of it emerged and then, over time, it affected many (if not all) of us directly and indirectly.

In wanting to recount some of the better aspects of life in Covid19 times, I chose to use this week’s prompt Kindness to hunt out examples from people I know and some from me.

Kindness in Covid19 times as observed by me…and an example too!

  • In the early days of the virus’ grip and the newness of what the restrictions around it meant to us all here in Australia, I noted the smiles and kind words of those who waited as the supermarket entrance to welcome but also ensure we were well enough to enter and to have a clean basket or trolley at the ready. I admit too, that their smiles were returned and a kind word added from me because it has been reported they did not always have the best of times dealing with an often panicked member of the public.

 

  • Moving around the supermarket in those early weeks meant ‘get in and out fast’ but then there was the disappointment of some needed products not being available. When I saw this and others too, we often smiled wryly and then said a few words with resignation  and got on with trying to source something different. One supermarket chain even had needed items behind the counter, kindly asking at the checkout if we needed: toilet paper or paper towels.

 

  • Our pharmacist quickly ramped up their services and offerings to help during those awful early days and made it very easy to have a free delivery of our prescriptions. I did, however, note when I visited one day soon after that the staff were incredibly stressed as not every person they saw understood the need for restrictions so I made sure, where I could, to enquire after them when I was back there. I hope someone got a smile back as a result.

 

  • People out walking…when everyone was confined to home for work/school…were always up for a smile or a quick hello if we happened to be out the front. There was a shared spirit of connection and ‘we can do this.’

 

Later in the Covid19 times:

  • I started my return to coffee places for a takeaway and I was told how grateful they were I had returned and thanked me for my support. How kind!

 

  • Later, I got to return to actually sit for my coffee at one of my favourites and when I asked about a ‘special size’ salad to suit my eating ability and needs, it was no trouble. In fact, it was something the owner was happy to provide me with.

 

  • Taking time to chat and ask how they were faring was something I did at each cafe. I listened to the stories. Often they had operated at a loss in the hope keeping open they would continue to help customers. I returned to one of those places more as a result.

 

And When I Asked Facebook Friends About Kindness They Wrote:

  • When I was still working at the start of the pandemic, a kind person started a list of people who would be willing to pick up groceries and do other messages for the elderly to enable them to stay at home and out of danger. Immediately there was a long list and a roster was made up. This has become a huge success with new life friendships being made. J.J.

 

  • My neighbour drops a hot coffee at my door every so often as she knows I’m WFH. Another neighbour put a huge box of stationery downstairs for kids in the building to collect to make crafts. A girlfriend called my kids to make sure they had something organised for Mother’s Day as I’m a single mum. K.A.

 

  • A friend (through Rotary connections) lives in a town near my MIL and offered to go and see her during the restrictions as we were unable to travel. MIL is an independent 89 year old who lives alone, out of town without any transport options nearby and is used to being on her own, but being vulnerable she was unable to get into town to do her usual shopping. Our friend not only offered to visit her but ended up helping with shopping and doctors appointments and even made her a cake for her birthday. She has been so kind to my MIL and kept us in the loop during recent health issues and she expects nothing in return. We are in her debt! D.H.

 

  • My neighbours (a working couple in their 30’s) delivered a note offering to do shopping or other errands, together with a bottle of wine and the offer of a chat any time. We live in an apartment. I believe the note was dropped into all 32 letterboxes. We know these neighbours very well. It was touching to see such thoughtfulness and practicality! A.H.

 

  • Our neighbors down the hall from us are both ER doctors & just had a baby in February. While the mom stayed home with the baby, her husband worked tirelessly in the ER with COVID cases. During the worst of the pandemic here in NYC they baked cookies for everyone on our floor to cheer all of US up!!! Incredibly caring & kind family. P.D.

Kindness IS personal. I guess for me, the first person I need to be kind to (in words especially) is me. Dropping the inner critic’s voice to a whisper rather than a shout! I am getting better. How about you?

I have written about Kindness before on the blog: here and here.

And last week I changed my blogging links area on right hand side of the blog to show my appreciation for groups of bloggers who do link up for our community called Life This Week AND for those who come here to comment at other times. Do link up a post, old or new, any Monday and if your blog and name is not (yet) there..I will add it. Let me know in the comments I am very grateful for this blogging community!

 

I am aware that each reader and blogger here has experienced the restrictions and rules of COVID19 differently according to their place of living. However, I did want to bring something of an element or quality we can all share:

K     I     N    D    N    E    S    S

What do you recall, in COVID19 times, of kindness? Maybe something you did or had happen to you.

Denyse.

Link Up #193.

Life This Week. Link Up #193.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt. 25/51 Share Your Snaps #5 22.6.2020

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The Value Of A Smile. 46.1./2020.

The Value Of A Smile. 46.1./2020.

I’ve been contemplating the ways in which smiling can improve my/our health.

Maybe too, because of being socially isolated and  when being out keeping our distance, I have noted that when engaging with people a smile cuts through any communication to be gain a positive response often with a smile back!

Have you noticed this too?

Regular readers here will know I lost my smile for a long time when the top half of my mouth (and some of my top lip too) was removed because of head and neck cancer, and that I really, really missed my smile!

Recovering from Cancer Surgery 2017. Smiling as Best I Could.

Interesting to get to know my needs for social inclusion were/are based on my ability to connect with my smile.

I think it is fascinating that of the three things I lost for a while after the July 2017 surgery: ability to eat & drink, talking clearly and smiling…that I found

S M I L I N G was what I needed to do most.

There is science in this too!

Recently I read this:

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do. Peace begins with a smile.

Mother Theresa.

Years ago, I was seeing a psychiatrist for some issues and he talked of the fake it till you make it smile. It seemed silly to me then, but apparently there IS something to this.

I can share this practice , from my experiences of meditation and being mindful, of not allowing myself to retreat or resist what I am not liking. I still need to remember this. In fact, I ask myself ‘what am I afraid to admit, or do or be’?

I need to be in the moment. The only moment as that’s all I have.

Yet, the physical act of helping my body make a smile, works. It’s like a circuit breaker. I can look in the mirror and smile. Not always genuinely but it changes things.

Further advice in troubled times:

  • life the corners of your mouth with your fingers, literally putting a smile on your face.

  • let the smile remind you that acceptance is more powerful than resistance.

  • breathe deeply, then exhale slowly

  • invite yourself to be curious about whatever set of circumstances initiated your resistance.

           Ashley Davis Bush: The Little Book of Inner Peace.

I do engage as much as I can with feeling gratitude each day (and made a promise to do this every day in 2020). Smiling reminds me of how grateful I am for my health, and that even though my top lip is shrinking back somewhat, smiling is one very sound exercise as is connecting with the people around me.

I made my first vlog…I am not sure that is what I call it…but I now have the ability to make mini-videos at home and sorted my channel on You Tube to be able to do so. Yes, the ending is a bit unproffesh but the message is mine!

Take care, people….and do remember to smile.

Denyse.

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Self-Care Stories #7 48/51 #LifeThisWeek.117/2019.

Self-Care Stories #7 48/51 #LifeThisWeek.117/2019.

Dear Readers,

We have finished the series for 2019 for Self-Care. However, “I” know how much it means to me to continue the practice of caring for the self…and so it will return as a regular prompt in 2020.

 

My approach for self-care in recent weeks.

Daily. Every Day.

I’ve long been the fan of my morning ritual of:

  • dress with purpose
  • go out to a coffee shop, shopping centre, cafe….
  • order my small, latte, double shot in a glass…..
  • open my current art journal and see where I am at..or what I want to share today
  • and often have two of these little biscuits

IF I do not get to do this because of being unwell or in Sydney for an appointment I really, really miss it so as best as I can, it’s the next day for me.

About the journal.

  • all pages are art-paper – heavy-ish quality
  • all are blank
  • sometimes I prep a page layout with paint at home
  • I write a bit
  • I might add a list- for example, what went well
  • I write to get stuff out…usually helpful and always something I need to do and work on
  •  I add in little patterns and designs
  • I make one if these little babies last me about 2-3 months if I can because they are expensive
  • I used a changing range of unipin black pen (0.5 or 0.8) for writing, outlining and some mixed media for colour

Something to read.

Only recently, when I found this little book, have I read something in this special self care time. This book has given me so many insights and I find myself nodding in agreement. It has confirmed lots of what I have been learning in these recent years and it’s done in such a great, easy-to-follow way.

Author: Ashley Davis Bush

This excerpt is from: Enjoy Your Non-Toothache.

The wise Vietnamese spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh talks about gaining inner peace via the path of noticing what you don’t have. His classic is to enjoy your “non-toothache”. If you’ve ever had toothache you will know (as I do well!) it causes a bit of pain..ok, a lot of pain. All you do when you have it is notice it, thinking about it…..you’d give anything not to have a toothache.

However when the toothache is gone, you quickly forget about the pain and immediately begin to focus on other issues or concerns.

For this equanimity practice write a list of ten things that, for today, you are currently NOT experiencing, but would definitely be unpleasant if you were. In other words, write a list of “it could be worse” items.

The author’s list:

  1. I enjoy not being homeless
  2. I enjoy not being in hospital
  3. I enjoy not vomiting
  4. I enjoy not have a migraine
  5. I enjoy not declaring bankruptcy
  6. I enjoy not going blind
  7. I enjoy not being caught outside in a blizzard
  8. I enjoy not losing my electricity
  9. I enjoy my car not having a flat tyre
  10. I enjoy not having a serious illness.

Here’s my list as of time of writing

  1. I enjoy not being in pain
  2. I enjoy not being employed as a principal
  3. I enjoy not being worried about my job
  4. I enjoy not have issues with IBS today
  5. I enjoy not having a deadline for anything
  6. I enjoy not needing to do Christmas shopping
  7. I am really enjoying not having to prepare family meals each night
  8. I am enjoying not feeling pressured for any reason to be anywhere
  9. I am enjoying not being in treatment for head and neck cancer
  10. I am enjoying not being in debt

How is your self-care?

Meeting up with friends is a really important part of my self-care and I am so glad to have people I know to do so!

On  a recent Monday Kirsty  and I met for coffee and a good old catch up. Kirsty is one busy lady and I am glad to see her role helping educators and parents better understand kids with special needs is taking off. Kirsty can be found here.

 

Sanch and I caught up recently when we met for coffee! Wishing my blogging friend all the best in her new job AND new place of living.  Her blog is here. I shall miss her presence in my life on the Central Coast! I am sure we will catch up again though!!

Excellent Self-Care on 18 November with Sanch!

Self-caring and sharing with my blogging & social media friends recently for my 70th Birthday! 

L-R. Me, Sam, Veronica, Grace & Kimba

 

I hope your self-care is going well!

Tell me more in the comments.

Denyse.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 49/51 Taking Stock #5 9/12/19

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My Zen Is Found In The Garden. Part One. 37/2019.

My Zen Is Found In The Garden. Part One. 37/2019.

I really did not ever enjoy gardening. I think it was the labour of it and also I liked the ‘look’ of a garden but not so much the hard work. This changed for me once I was well and truly retired from all work.

We still lived in Sydney then and had a lovely pool area which incorporated garden beds around the perimeter. Over time, we (ok, my husband) laboured more intensively and made some delightful screening areas as well as adding plants and shrubs.

The pool area in its early stages, but the time the house was sold late 2014 it was more filled with greenery and colour.

I liked tending to some of the new plants, helped with cutting back the fast-growing vines and also put some plants in seasonally e.g. sweet peas. They went against the pool fence far left and it was something I enjoyed doing with my little grandkids who we cared for 3 days a week. Oh, and for anyone worried, the pool gates were always locked and an adult would accompany a child into the pool area at all times.  Very strict on that!

Then we sold our family home and moved to the Central Coast to rent. The first house we rented was a waterfront and, by the way, we would not choose waterfront again because the salty air does affect computers and other appliances. This place had some native trees but not much else.

After wanting to get away to an easier house to live in and be more comfortable, we chose an established home that had one owner and was in the northern area of the Central Coast N.S.W. And those people planted a LOT…..of palm trees, and tropical plants….and I sure got some frustrations out chopping them back. The HUGE frangipani in the back yard needed some cutting back but the beauty each Spring to Summer was worth the mess of the fallen petals!

Now where was I?

Zen in the garden.

As I really needed to become more mindful and calm down my  nervous system (IBS and anxiety) my plants and flowers helped me manage myself and emotions on some days. Mind you, I sometimes needed some digging help, but generally I could manage with potting mix, barrel-type planters and a range of colourful flowers in season.

These gave me joy as I tended them, photographed them and sometimes tried to capture their beauty by a sketch or a painting.

These colourful plants and flowers were a joy to tend, to water and to care for as they were almost all located on the back verandah and I could reach them easily. Over time, some would die back and others would take their place.

As I became more unwell into 2017 – before I knew I had cancer – being outside, in this garden was one place where I could:

  • meditate via my app then which was Headspace
  • take notice of the changing skies above
  • listen to the birdsong of the local native birds and those who are just nuisance value
  • water the flowers and clean up the frangipani debris
  • cut back the palms: they can be quite dangerous and these, according to those who know, should never have been planted. They were overwhelming in size but….the new owners (our landlords) did not give approval for culling…so we did it. And the local council took the big and fallen fronds away at green pick up times.

Next time, more about the ways in which being in a garden is good for my heart and soul!

Do you find zen in the garden?

Denyse.

Linking up with Min on Tuesdays for Zen Tips Tuesday here. 

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